Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that jurors who express familiarity with FBI crime stats should be banned from Capital case juries for “racial bias.”
The opinion was in relation to Kristopher Love, a black man who was convicted of capital murder in the course of a robbery that happened in 2015.
Before Love’s trial, prospective members of the jury filled out a questionnaire which included the following two questions.
“68. Do you sometimes personally harbor bias against members of certain races or ethnic groups?”
“69. Do you believe that some races and/or ethnic groups tend to be more violent than others?”
The prospective juror answered no to the first question but then answered yes to the second and explained that he understood “[n]on-white” races to be the “more violent races” because he had seen statistics to this effect in “[n]ews reports and criminology classes” he had taken.
Despite the juror making clear that his views were based on statistics and not his personal feelings about black people, Love’s counsel moved to exclude the prospective juror based on “his stated beliefs that . . . non-whites commit more violent crimes than whites.”
“Leaving this man on the jury would be an invitation to leaving someone on there that might make a decision on Special Issue No. 1 that would ultimately lead to a sentence of death on his preconceived notions and beliefs that have to do with the race of the defendant,” counsel argued.
The trial court ended up denying counsel’s request to have the juror removed and Love was later sentenced to death.